By Cindy Perman, CNBC.com staff writer
NEW YORK (
) -- People often joke about how much waiting for the cable guy and other service people is costing them -- in time and billable hours. Well, now someone has actually done the math.
Doesn't it just make you want to set that little Post-It note on fire in the front yard for when the guy comes back? CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
It costs a whopping $37.7 billion a year for the time customers spent waiting on someone to come fix, install or deliver something, according to a new "Cost of Waiting" study from TOA Technologies. The company makes software that helps businesses better track their service people and narrow down the window of time customers have to wait.
Americans waited 4.3 hours on average -- more than double of what the individuals had expected. On an individual basis, that works out to about $250 a year, or two full working days, that we waste waiting for everything from the cable, phone, Internet or utility guy to a retail home delivery.
"It's clear from this year's survey that customer service needs to be a top priority for businesses in the current climate, not only because it can negatively affect a company's performance but because poor service around wait times has financial penalties for a company's own customers," said Yuval Brisker, co-founder and CEO of TOA Technologies.
And, if you've had it with waiting, you're not alone: The survey found 58% of Americans suffered fist-pounding frustration, waiting on somebody for something, in the past year.
In fact, Brisker and his partner Irad Carmi, now the CTO of the company, founded TOA after a particularly frustrating wait for a guy to come and fix Brisker's video on demand. The window the company gave him came and went without a single ring of the doorbell, so he decided to go out and run an errand. He came home to find a note on the door from the service person that said, "Sorry we missed you." The company was able to give him a new appointment -- for ONE WEEK LATER.
"I thought, there's got to be a better way!" Brisker said.
Customer frustration with wait times is bad in the best of times, but Brisker said it's even worse since the recession.
"Our focus in this survey was to understand if waiting pains people more as a result of the downturn in the economy. Do they perceive that pain more acutely than before? Yes," Brisker said. "There's a much more acute sense of every dollar lost -- especially in middle- and lower-income people."